Prados del Este, Caracas 1050, Venezuela
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Fax: (58) 212 976-3765
On the Internet: http://www.guyana.org/spanish/venezuela_embassy.html
Posted October 2009 - Issue No. 69 - Back to Embassy page
Previous Guyana Diaries are available here.
Addressing the 64th United Nations (UN) General Assembly on September 24 at the UN Headquarters in New York, President Bharrat Jagdeo told his fellow leaders that the global financial and economic crisis has had a debilitating effect on the economies of small states, such as Guyana, which are extremely vulnerable because of a number of factors.
Among these are the minute size of their domestic markets, remoteness of location, susceptibility to natural disasters, few opportunities for diversification, constraints in institutional capacity, limited opportunities for economies of scale and scope, openness to and dependency on trade and investment, poor access to external capital, and persistent poverty.
“In the case of the prevailing crisis, the small vulnerable economies of the Caribbean have had to bear the brunt of global recession. This has manifested itself through both depressed prices for primary commodities exported such as bauxite, and depressed demand for services such as tourism. The result has been loss in export and foreign currency earnings with attendant dislocation to exchange rates, reduced government revenues exacerbating an already tenuous fiscal and debt situation, loss of jobs and welfare, and reversal of gains previously made against poverty,” he said.
The President explained that the capacity of the small countries of the Caribbean to respond to the crisis with countercyclical measures is virtually non-existent as they have no available fiscal space because of their high levels of indebtedness.
As a result, he explained that the need for relief and support from the international community is immediate.
“The case is therefore compelling for the global community to relieve and restructure the debt of these heavily indebted vulnerable small countries, including those who were not previously considered for debt relief because of their income levels but whose debt ratios are clearly unsustainable by any standard,” President Jagdeo stated.
“The case is equally compelling for new additional flows of developing assistance to be delivered to these countries by both multilateral and bilateral development partners.”
However, he lamented the fact that despite injections of large amounts of additional resources into some of the multilateral institutions, and approval of new facilities by these institutions, very little has actually materialised in terms of disbursements to smaller states.
This, he said, needs to be corrected urgently to avoid the perception that there is an absence of concern at the global level for the needs of smaller countries.
Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd has expressed his country’s interest in collaborating with Guyana in the global effort to address climate change after lauding Guyana’s leadership on climate change, during a bilateral meeting with President Jagdeo in New York.
Australia has committed to support Guyana’s Monitoring Reporting and Verification (MRV) system. This development builds on Guyana’s recent work on developing its MRV system at which several experts from the Australian Climate Office participated.
During the meeting, President Jagdeo used the occasion to outline Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and told his Australian counterpart that national scale lessons such as the LCDS are important in order to demonstrate that economic development can be pursued diligently.
President Jagdeo added that the LCDS is a development strategy that goes beyond the small scale projects that have hitherto been used to demonstrate that both the climate challenges and the development challenges are linked inextricably.
The Australian Prime Minister described the LCDS as an intelligent model in consonance with Australia’s efforts to combat the effects of climate change.
He said Australia is not averse to helping developing countries like Guyana in their attempt to mitigate climate change through avoided deforestation and forest conservation.
The two leaders agreed that the climate challenge cannot be met through ad-hoc incremental actions but by concrete action such as emission cuts. In this regard President Jagdeo reiterated Guyana’s interest in a global climate deal in Copenhagen which allows for low emission, and a high growth pathway to meet development and climate challenges.
The also agreed that emission cuts are unavoidable in the effects to combat climate change and vowed to continue discussions at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to explore areas of bilateral cooperation on climate change, as well as regional initiatives for the Caribbean Community.
Harrison Ford, movie star and avid environmental activist, on September 21 gathered with Team Earth partners and President Bharrat Jagdeo at an event in Greeley Square, New York to showcase the urgency of protecting tropical forests and to urge support on forest protection from the United Nations (UN) General Assembly and in the Copenhagen Climate Council this December.
The event was organized by Conservation International and formed part of Climate Week which coincided the with UN General Assembly meeting.
President Jagdeo made an impassioned call to world leaders attending the Assembly to support plans to fund the protection of tropical forests as a means to tackle climate change. He also outlined his plans to build Guyana’s economic development around the preservation of its vast forests.
Ford, who has been a board member of Conservation International for 15 years, said: “By having the foresight to recognise that serving the needs of the planet could also help the people of Guyana, President Jagdeo is helping to change the way that we think about economic development and climate change. We are calling on leaders attending the UN General Assembly to follow Guyana’s lead and help to ensure that they support a finance package that keeps the world’s forest standing at the Copenhagen climate talks in December.”
The media event took place before a stunning installation of life-size origami trees and wildlife. The life-size origami trees and wildlife, symbolizing Guyana’s massive and immensely important forest, was created on site over two days, and then partially destroyed – as a statement about loss of the planet’s forests – by world-renowned origami artist Dr. Robert J. Lang.
President Jagdeo stated: “In the year since I last came to New York to call for forest conservation, the world has lost an area of forest the size of my entire country. This has not only released more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than every motorised vehicle on the planet – around 20 percent of global emissions – but has also reduced the earth’s ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
“This has not happened out of malice or ignorance, but because most of the world’s forested nations have no alternative but to generate income by cutting their forests. Guyana has offered a solution with our plan for low carbon development, and the leaders who will meet at the UN this week have an unprecedented opportunity to put the planet on a new path, where protecting forests is more economically prudent than cutting them down.
“Immediate and adequate funding for countries developing forest protection strategies as part of their low carbon development plan is critical. Protecting forests represents one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to fight climate change now, whereas many other strategies may take years to develop. If we wait, these forests will be lost along with the multiple benefits they provide to humanity in terms of climate mitigation, fresh water, erosion control, food and resources.”
President Bharrat Jagdeo returned on September 28 from his trip to New York to attend the 64th United Nations (UN) General Assembly and at an impromptu press conference at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri, noted that Guyana received a disproportionate amount of coverage and access given its size for its progressive and leading stance on climate change, stating that he participated in several events and was able to meet with several business leaders, fellow Heads of State and academics.
“I met with corporate America, with the head of Wal-Mart, Johnson and Johnson, Harrison Ford and some others to draw attention to the need, not just to address climate change, but the role that forests can play as part of a solution, and to say that the business community has an important role to play,” the President told the media.
He was talking about a media event that was held on September 21 in Greeley Square, New York to launch “Team, Earth”, a cross-sector collaboration bringing together businesses, politicians, scientists, non-profit organizations, educators, individuals and children.
He also explained that meetings were held with the Prime Minister of Norway (Jens Stoltenberg), Australia (Kevin Rudd) and Great Britain (Gordon Brown). The President also met with the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon and the United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
“I had unprecedented access to a small group of leaders at the UN Secretary General’s dinner, discussing how we will break the deadlock – the President of the United States, the President of China, all the European leaders and the Prime Minister of Australia. There were just two small and developing countries (they had larger ones like Brazil and South Africa), Guyana and Kiribati, that were invited to that small group of about 30 leaders,” President Jagdeo explained.
He also gave a lecture at Columbia University to try to get the support of the academic community for Guyana’s stance on combating climate change.
The World Leaders Forum programme, organized by the university’s Earth Institute and the Institute of Latin American Studies, featured a brief keynote address by President Jagdeo on September 25, followed by a lengthy question and answer session with the audience.
Apart from the benefits of trade and other opportunities which the newly commissioned bridge across the Takutu River will provide for both Guyana and Brazil, it also gives Caricom producers of goods and services easy access to Brazil through Guyana.
During his address at the commissioning of the bridge in Bon Fim (Brazil) on September 14, President Bharrat Jagdeo said the structure will, in a very significant measure, “open new vistas to be explored.”
The President described the past trade activity between Brazil and the Caribbean as small, recalling that in 2004 Brazil’s exports to Caricom were valued US$744 million while Caricom’s export to Brazil were US$38 million in the same period. Similarly, in 2004, total trade between Guyana and Brazil amounted to a mere US$9.7 million, with Guyanese imports from Brazil accounting for virtually all of this activity.
“Since then, total trade between Guyana and Brazil has almost doubled to US17.8 million in 2008,” President Jagdeo said.
President Jagdeo said despite Guyana’s close geographic proximity to Brazil, the modest level of trade activity between the two countries has been striking.
For Guyana, the new bridge will aid in the promotion of trade in items under the Guyana/Brazil Partial Scope Agreement which President Jagdeo said is yet to be fully taken advantage of.
The Partial Scope Agreement refers to the exchange of tariff preferences on specific products among signatories to the agreement.
The bridge was opened to the movement of vehicular traffic, passengers and cargo on July 27.
Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva testified to the benefits which are already serving several frontier communities in the areas of goods supply, health and education.
The Brazilian President however, highlighted the need for reduction in the imbalance in trade relations between the two countries and as Guyana joins the competitive import institution programme, exports to Brazil will be boosted.
Optimistic about the future benefits which the bridge will bring to both countries, President Lula said his government is eyeing the opening of banks in the district to accelerate the integration agenda. He stressed the importance of agriculture development noting that it will be fundamental.
The Guyana Government, thought the Agriculture Ministry, has already begun structuring its short and long-term plans to capitalise on these opportunities which the Takutu river bridge will bring. Only recently, the Guyana Government finalised an arrangement with the Brazilian Agriculture Research Agency (EMBRAPA) for upland rice production, corn production, aquaculture and forestry. The arrangement allows the Agriculture Ministry to work through the EMBRAPA office in Boa Vista instead of Brazil’s capital.
The commissioning of the first ever physical link between Guyana and Brazil was described by Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva as “a concrete and irreversible step” that will also include paving the road from Lethem to Linden.
While speaking to mixed audience of Guyanese and Brazilian nationals at the Bon Fim (Brazil) side of the Takutu Bridge, President Lula disclosed that a Brazilian technical mission would travel to Georgetown to analyse the financial conditions for the undertaking.
President Lula said once such an infrastructure (Linden/Lethem road) is complete it will represent a total land link between Boa Vista and Georgetown and “an expansion of the prospects for development between Guyana and the entire northern region of Brazil.”
The Guyana Government has always had a vested interest in development of the Linden/Lethem roadway and in April 2008, started a pre-feasibility study.
During a meeting with President Jagdeo at State House, in July this year, Governor of the State of Roraima Jose de Achieta Junior had discussed the possibilities of Brazil financing the Linden/Lethem road project.
The stretch of road can be divided into several sections, beginning with Wismar to Mabura Hill, Mabura Hill to 15 Miles and 15 Miles to Lethem. The road is one of the most important road networks used by heavy volumes of traffic travelling to the hinterland areas.
In times of rainfall however, the road often creates access difficulties.
The Karasabai sub-district located in the South Rupununi, (Region Nine) will be the next region earmarked to benefit from the National Hinterland Secure Livelihood Programme, Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai announced during her recent visit to several remote hinterland communities in the South and North Rupununi.
The programme seeks to advance village economies. This includes working with individuals and farmers’ groups in developing certain aspects such as technical training of farmers to become more skilled to deal with market realities.
Through a supplementary provision for the period July 16 to December 31, 2009, a sum of $88.4 million was approved by the National Assembly towards the implementation of programme where monies will go towards capital expenditure inclusive of an Amerindian Development Fund and office furniture and equipment, current expenditures including transport, travel, and postage and training (scholarships).
The project which is being implemented by the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs in collaboration with the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) has targeted 15 communities in the North West District (Region One).
A team of VSO officers – natives of Nigeria, Philippines, the United Kingdom and Canada – represented by specialists in agriculture, aquaculture, pest control, business development, food technology and marketing and finance, has been deployed to several communities in the Mabaruma sub-region to assist in promoting developmental initiatives, primarily in the areas of food security and poverty reduction. The team will be in Guyana for a period of two years.
The programme is also expected to help young people to develop skills and transfer those into various fields.
The National Hinterland Secure Livelihood Programme was launched at the National Toshaos Conference held in July.
With the announcement by President Bharrat Jadgeo that $400 million will be made available to assist rice farmers, the Rice Producers’ Association (RPA) and the Ministry of Agriculture have been holding consultations with farmers on industry issues, and one of the many recommendations was the setting up of a Production Stabilisation Fund.
While inspecting drainage structures at Tuschen, East Bank Essequibo on September 26, Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud disclosed that the government will be supporting the RPA in setting up the fund as it will aid farmers especially with pricing for paddy.
Minister Persaud noted that the initiative is not about distributing a great deal of cash but it is about the government making interventions to increase competitiveness; and it also allows the industry to deal with price reductions locally and globally.
“This intervention is intended to sustain and deal with the current issue and also prepare for medium and long-term support,” Minister Persaud said.
Once the price for paddy reduces below its production cost, farmers will be compensated through a voucher system. He said that government will start the fund that will be continued by way of contributions from rice farmers and millers.
Minister of Education Shaik Baksh and Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Kellawan Lall, on September 25 commissioned the $380 million Three Miles Secondary School located in Region Seven.
The commitment that the administration made to ensure that universal education is provided to children in all parts of Guyana is now being unveiled with last year recording 23 new schools constructed – 9 nursery, 4 secondary and 10 primary schools.
The Three Miles Secondary School is located along the Bartica-Potaro road and houses approximately 655 students.
The school currently facilitates several classrooms, a dormitory, a sanitary department, a spacious auditorium, a staff room, Science, a Home Economics department, and an Industrial Technology department which will accommodate 30 computers.
The school is built to accommodate 1,000 from Bartica and various parts of the region including the Mazaruni District.
The multi-million dollar Lethem Hospital, (in Region Nine) was on September 14 commissioned by President Bharrat Jagdeo. The President took the opportunity to remind residents that the indigenous people matter to the administration and that it always had as its vision to bridge the gap in the level of services offered on the coastland and in the hinterland.
“I hope this hospital will extend a much needed service to the people in this community and that you embrace it and see it as your own so you can sustain it over a long period of time,” he said.
The Lethem Hospital will be the leading health institution in Region Nine as it is outfitted with modern equipment and facilities including theatres, in-patient and out-patient facilities, pharmacy and laboratory and will be offering a wide range of services.
The new hospital will be initially manned by staff from the old hospital and the Ministry of Health will periodically send in visiting teams to complement its work.
The administration at present continues to train hundreds of nurses at the three nursing schools located in Georgetown, Linden and New Amsterdam. Among them are students from Region Nine who will return to Lethem to serve.
Sixty-four newly registered doctors who recently completed their training under the Guyana/Cuba scholarship programme have taken up their responsibilities as general medical practitioners at various health posts across the country.
Eleven doctors will be stationed at the Suddie Diagnostic Centre in Region Two to man the institution. The treatment centre which opened its door in 2008 has been providing medical services to thousands of residents living in Essequibo and on the surrounding islands, including Wakenaam, Leguan, Hog and Fort Islands. Three were deployed to the Leonora Treatment Centre, 7 to Diamond Regional Hospital, 5 to Mahaicony, 1 to Linden and 18 to the Georgetown Public Hospital, 14 to New Amsterdam and 16 to Port Mourant.
The doctors deployed to the various hospitals will be responsible for surgeries, internal medicine, obstetrics, paediatrics, dental clinic, general x-ray and endoscopy among others.
The Ministry of Amerindian Affairs on September 10 held an evening of reflections in a special tribute in recognition of the contribution of Stephen Campbell, the first Amerindian to enter the Legislative Council of then British Guiana.
Campbell was born in the Moruca sub-district of Region One on December 26, 1897 to parents who both died when he was at a tender age, leaving him in the care of his grandmother. He was a student of the Santa Rosa Mission School and was someone who had a passion for learning in his early life and this influenced his character as a person with a discovery method.
He was a man who valued time and knew the importance of it. Campbell married at the age of 31 in 1928 and migrated to various locations in Regions One, Two, Seven and Nine where he was involved in teaching, road construction, gold mining, rubber tapping, fishing and tree spotting. His political will, however, was aroused during his tenure at the Waini Sawmill where Amerindians and other sections of the Guyanese population were seeking representation.
With the proposal of universal adult suffrage in 1951, this gave the Amerindians the opportunity to participate in general elections as Campbell began to show keener interest in political events.
In 1953, Amerindians in Guyana exercised their franchise for the first time. In 1957, at the age of 60 Campbell was first elected to the Legislative Council of British Guiana as a candidate of the National Labour Front making it the first time that an Amerindian contested the general elections in the country.
His greatest achievement was the move towards crafting the Amerindian Act and to develop better health facilities, a postal service and agriculture in the North West District.
He proposed that the Mabaruma Hospital be extended to include a mortuary and a laundry and that the 30-bed institution be extended to include 60 beds. He also pressed for the construction of an isolation ward in the hospital for tuberculosis patients.
Campbell died on May 12, 1966 two weeks before Guiana gained independence from Britain.
Orealla, an Amerindian community in Region Six (Corentyne) with a population of about 1,500, in mid-September hosted the annual Heritage Day celebrations, part of the activities for Amerindian Heritage Month.
Hundreds of Guyanese including Government officials and members of the diplomatic corps of Guyana and Suriname were in attendance.
The event, officially opened by Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, featured cultural presentations in the form of dances, poetry, dramatic presentations and songs.
The Prime Minister recognised the hundreds in attendance and noted that Guyanese have come to realise and accept the fact that, “We are a people of shared history and culture.”
He congratulated the community on its achievements over the years and for the successful hosting of Heritage Day and pledged Government’s continued support for the development of the community and the overall development and enhancement of the lives of Amerindians.
The Prime Minister explained to the gathering that Amerindians are now more recognised in society for the significant contributions they have made to national development, adding that September is the time for reflection on the progress and achievements of Guyana’s indigenous people, the challenges faced, and their future plans.
Credits: Stabroek News, Chronicle, Mirror, Kaieteur News, GINA
Compiled and edited by Evangeline Ishmael
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